Ethiopian Airlines is going from strength to strength, this as its major Sub-Saharan African rivals are struggling to keep their planes in the air. South African Airlines (SAA) is celebrating this month, a decade as a Star Alliance member. However, in reality there is little to celebrate at the airline. Mounting losses, financial irregularities and political interferences have dogged the airline for a number of years. The airline’s financial losses ballooned to nearly R5 billion ($347 million) in 2015.
Kenyan Airways recently axed 600 workers and is also reducing the number of routes, to return the airline to profitability. On a more positive note for the airline, in April Kenya Airways dethroned SAA as the leading African airline. The end of 22 year reign.
African airlines are facing increased competition from their Middle Eastern counterparts. However, Ethiopia is more than holding their own in the face of competition. The French language publication Jeune Afrique, recently reported on the success of Ethiopian Airlines. It mentioned the lack of government interference, protected skies and the creation of a flight school, as some of the major reasons the airline has prospered. The airline also recruited Mandarin speaking flight crews, for its increasingly popular Chinese routes; where on average 80% of the Chinese passengers can’t speak English.